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Hanoi in 3 days – Best things to do & Tips to beat the tourist crowd

Hanoi in 3 days – Best things to do & Tips to beat the tourist crowd

Home Travel Blog Hanoi in 3 days – Best things to do & Tips to beat the tourist crowd

Hanoi in 3 days – Best things to do & Tips to beat the tourist crowd

Explore the enchanting city of Hanoi over 3 days with our insider’s guide to the best things to do and tips for avoiding crowds of tourists. Plan your trip carefully to experience the lively streets like a local and make the most of your time in Hanoi. Before getting to the detail activities in each day, here is an infographic to help you have an overview of your 3 days in Hanoi.

Hanoi 3 days itinerary
Hanoi 3 days itinerary

Day 1

Your first day is packed with the best things to do in Hanoi, ensuring you see the city’s top attractions while avoiding the crowds.

Visit Ho Chi Minh Complex

Start your Hanoi trip at the iconic Ho Chi Minh Complex. This area is not only a must-see but also provides a deep dive into Vietnam’s history and culture. Personally, I believe this complex offers one of the most poignant insights into the country’s past. For the first time traveling to this complex, here are the spots you should visit:

  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum: Open from 7:30 AM, this is where you can pay your respects to Vietnam’s revolutionary leader. The earlier you arrive, the shorter the queues. Seeing the solemn procession of locals paying their respects is a powerful experience.
  • Ho Chi Minh Ho stilt house: Located within the complex, this modest wooden house is where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked. It opens at 8:00 AM. The simplicity of his living conditions is humbling and thought-provoking.
  • Presidential Palace: A French colonial building you can admire from the outside while walking through the well-manicured gardens. The contrast between the grand palace and Ho Chi Minh’s simple abode nearby is striking.
  • One Pillar Pagoda: Just a short walk from the Mausoleum, this historic pagoda is an architectural gem. Its unique design and serene surroundings make it a perfect spot for reflection.
Visit Ho Chi Minh Complex
Visit Ho Chi Minh Complex

Visit the Temple of Literature

Next, head to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university, founded in 1070. This temple is a serene escape from the bustling city, with beautiful gardens and ancient architecture. It opens at 8:00 AM, so it’s best to visit right after the Ho Chi Minh Complex to avoid the midday heat and crowds. I find the Temple of Literature to be a peaceful haven, ideal for those seeking a deeper connection with Vietnamese heritage.

Temple of Literature
Visit Temple of Literature

Train Street Coffee

One of the most unique Hanoi things to do is experiencing Train Street. Grab a coffee at one of the cafes lining the railway tracks. Check the train schedule and be ready to snap some photos as the train passes by just inches away from you. This spot is a favorite for both tourists and locals alike. In my opinion, Train Street captures the essence of Hanoi’s charm—vibrant, surprising, and full of life.

>>> Read more: Hanoi Train Street Coffee – A comprehensive travel guide

Enjoy special Hanoi train street
Enjoy special Hanoi train street

Street food tour

End your first day with a street food tour. Hanoi’s street food is legendary, and a guided tour is the best way to sample a variety of dishes. Look for tours that include local favorites like pho, banh mi, and bun cha. Alternatively, you can explore on your own, hitting popular spots such as the Old Quarter for a true taste of Hanoi travel. For me, the street food in Hanoi is unmatched—each bite tells a story and reflects the city’s rich culinary traditions.

Hanoi street food tour
A must-do experience – Hanoi street food tour

Day 2

On your second day in Hanoi, you’ll dive deeper into the city’s vibrant culture and explore some hidden gems. This Hanoi itinerary ensures you experience the authentic charm of the city.

Hanoi walking tour

Start your day with a Hanoi walking tour. This is one of the best ways to soak in the city’s atmosphere and discover Hanoi’s top things to do.

  • Visit Thanh Ha Market: Begin your morning at Thanh Ha Market. Open early, this bustling market is where locals shop for fresh produce and daily essentials. It’s a great place to see the daily life of Hanoians and perhaps try some exotic fruits.
  • Hanoi Old Quarter: From the market, head to the Hanoi Old Quarter. This area is a maze of narrow streets and alleys, each named after the goods traditionally sold there. Explore the shops, art galleries, and street vendors. Don’t miss the chance to buy some souvenirs.
  • Hanoi Old Apartment Building: Take a detour to see one of Hanoi’s old apartment buildings. These buildings offer a glimpse into the living conditions and architecture of the past. The communal courtyards and bustling life around them are fascinating.
Hanoi walking tour destinations
Hanoi walking tour

Tips for the Walking Tour:

  • Wear Comfortable Shoes: The streets can be uneven.
  • Bring Water: Stay hydrated as you walk.
  • Carry Cash: Some shops and vendors don’t accept cards.

Tour to Vietnam Women’s Museum

If you’re interested in learning about the role of women in Vietnamese history and culture, visit the Vietnam Women’s Museum. It’s an enlightening experience that showcases the contributions of women in various fields. The museum is well-curated and provides deep insights into the lives of Vietnamese women.

Enjoy egg coffee

After your tour, treat yourself to a cup of egg coffee, a Hanoi specialty. Head to a café like Giang Café, where this unique drink was invented. Egg coffee is a creamy, sweet concoction made with egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk, and robusta coffee. It’s a must-try on any Hanoi travel itinerary.

Egg coffee at Giang coffee
A special coffee – Egg coffee

Explore Hanoi nightlife 

As the sun sets, experience Hanoi’s nightlife. The city transforms with vibrant lights and bustling night markets.

  • Bars and pubs: Start with a visit to one of Hanoi’s popular bars. The streets of the Old Quarter have many options, from rooftop bars with stunning views to cozy pubs.
  • Night markets: Head to the weekend night markets in the Old Quarter. They offer a variety of goods from clothing to souvenirs, along with street food stalls where you can try local snacks.
  • Live music: Check out venues that offer live music. Hanoi has a growing music scene with performances ranging from traditional Vietnamese music to contemporary bands.
Ta Hien Street
Ta Hien Street

Tips for exploring nightlife:

  • Stay Safe: Stick to well-lit and crowded areas.
  • Watch Your Belongings: Keep an eye on your valuables.
  • Use Reputable Transport: Consider booking a ride through a trusted app.

Day 3

Your third day in Hanoi offers a mix of relaxation and exploration. Follow this guide for the best things to do in Hanoi on your final day. I believe this day strikes the perfect balance between activity and relaxation, making it an ideal way to conclude your Hanoi trip.

Westlake cycling tour

Start your day with a Westlake cycling tour. Westlake, or Ho Tay, is Hanoi’s largest lake and a serene escape from the city’s hustle. In my opinion, cycling around Westlake is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Hanoi. The fresh air and scenic views are a refreshing change from the crowded streets. Here are some spots you should spend time for deeper visiting:

  • Phan Dinh Phung Street: Begin your ride along Phan Dinh Phung Street. This street is lined with beautiful old trees and colonial-era buildings. It’s peaceful in the morning and perfect for a bike ride.
  • Quan Thanh Temple: Stop at Quan Thanh Temple, one of Hanoi’s four sacred temples. Take a few minutes to explore its rich history and architecture. The tranquility of this temple is a highlight for me.
  • Ngoc Ha Village: This quaint village offers a glimpse into traditional Vietnamese life and provides a serene experience. You can see the slow life of local people if you visit here in the afternoon.
  • Tran Quoc Pagoda: Continue to Tran Quoc Pagoda, located on a small island in Westlake. It’s the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi, with stunning views of the lake. The serene atmosphere of Tran Quoc Pagoda is simply enchanting.
  • Relax at a café for relaxation: After your visit to the pagoda, relax at one of the lakeside cafés. Enjoy a cup of coffee or a brunch while taking in the tranquil lake views. There’s something special about unwinding by the water that adds a peaceful touch to your day.
West lake cycling tour itinerary
West lake cycling tour

Tips for the Cycling Tour:

  • Rent a Good Bike: Many rental shops around the lake offer quality bikes.
  • Follow Traffic Rules: Hanoi’s traffic can be chaotic; stick to designated paths.
  • Stay Hydrated: Bring a water bottle to keep hydrated.

Lunch at a lakeside restaurant

After your cycling tour, treat yourself to lunch at a lakeside restaurant. Westlake is dotted with numerous eateries offering delicious Vietnamese cuisine and breathtaking views.

  • Choose a restaurant: Look for a restaurant with good reviews and a menu that appeals to you. Some popular choices include Maison de Tet Décor and The Hanoi Club.
  • Order local dishes: Try traditional Vietnamese dishes like bun thang (rice noodle soup) or cha ca (grilled fish). These dishes are flavorful and showcase the best of Hanoi’s culinary scene.
  • Enjoy the view: Find a seat by the window or on the terrace to enjoy the panoramic views of Westlake. The serene environment is perfect for a relaxing meal.

Having lunch by Westlake is one of the best things to do in Hanoi. The combination of good food and beautiful views makes for an unforgettable dining experience.

Farewell dinner at a rooftop restaurant with a view of the city

A farewell dinner at a rooftop restaurant is a perfect way to reflect on your trip to Hanoi. It’s a fitting end to your 3 days in Hanoi, offering spectacular views and a chance to reminisce about your trip.

  • Choose a Restaurant: Select a rooftop restaurant known for its view and cuisine. Recommended spots include the Lotte Hotel’s rooftop bar and Diamond Sky Bar.
  • Make a Reservation: Ensure you book a table in advance to secure a good spot, especially during peak times.
    Arrive Before Sunset: Get there early to catch the sunset. Watching the city transition from day to night is a magical experience.
  • Enjoy Your Meal: Savor a mix of local and international dishes. Pair your meal with a drink to toast to your Hanoi adventure.
Farewell dinner Hanoi city view restaurant
Farewell dinner

When is the best time to visit Hanoi?

Hanoi is beautiful all year round. However, for the best experience, plan your trip to Hanoi during spring (February – April) or autumn (September – November). These seasons offer the most comfortable weather and the chance to enjoy the top things to do in Hanoi. If you prefer fewer crowds and don’t mind the cold, winter is also a good option. Summer can be challenging due to the heat, but with proper planning, it can still be enjoyable.

>>> Read more: Hanoi weather by months & Highlights of season

Transportation tips for getting around

Getting to Hanoi

Before delving into transportation within the city, let’s talk about reaching Hanoi. The city is served by Noi Bai International Airport (Hanoi airport), located approximately 45 minutes from the city center. From the airport, you can take a taxi, shuttle bus, or private transfer to your accommodation.

Getting around the city

  • Walking: One of the best ways to explore Hanoi is on foot. The compact size of the city center makes it ideal for leisurely strolls, allowing you to immerse yourself in its vibrant atmosphere and discover hidden gems.
  • Public transportation: Hanoi boasts an extensive public transportation network, including buses and the recently introduced Hanoi metro system. While buses cover most areas of the city, the metro offers a faster alternative for traveling longer distances.
  • Cyclos: For a unique and authentic Hanoi experience, consider taking a cyclo (pedicab). Negotiate the fare beforehand and enjoy a leisurely ride through the bustling streets.
  • Grab: Similar to Uber, Grab is a convenient and affordable option for getting around Hanoi. Download the Grab app, input your destination, and enjoy hassle-free rides to your desired locations.

Tips for Using Transportation in Hanoi

  • Traffic: Be prepared for heavy traffic, especially during peak hours. Plan your journeys accordingly to avoid delays.
  • Safety: Exercise caution when crossing the streets, as traffic can be chaotic. Look both ways and proceed slowly but confidently.
  • Payment: Carry small cash for paying fares, especially when using public transportation or hiring cyclos or xe oms.

Frequently asked question

Is 3 days enough in Hanoi?

Yes, 3 days in Hanoi can provide ample time to explore the city’s highlights and immerse yourself in its rich culture. Follow our Hanoi itinerary for a well-rounded experience.

Is it safe to walk around Hanoi at night?

Walking around Hanoi at night is generally safe, especially in tourist areas like the Old Quarter. However, exercise caution and avoid poorly lit or secluded areas. Keep valuables secure and be aware of your surroundings.

What not to wear in Hanoi?

You can dress freely, however, you should note that when visiting temples or other religious sites. Avoid wearing revealing clothing or clothing with offensive language or symbols.

How Many Days in Hanoi?

The ideal duration for a Hanoi trip depends on your interests and travel preferences. While 3 days in Hanoi is sufficient to cover the main attractions, consider extending your stay if you want to delve deeper into the city’s culture and history.

With this guide, you’re all set to embark on an unforgettable journey through the charming streets and hidden alleys of Hanoi. Follow our recommendations and insider tips to make the most of your 3 days in Hanoi while beating the tourist crowds.

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